Selection of Cities

Cities were selected based on their 2015 United States Census population estimates figures. These estimates are based on the 2010 Census and reflect changes to the April 1, 2010 population due to the count Question Resolution program and geographic program revisions. The study was limited to those cities with an estimated population of 250,000 or larger as of July 1, 2015 (released in May 2016). As these figures are estimates, and not actual population counts, the population of cities may have increased or decreased significantly as compared to the 2010 decennial census actual population counts. We did not drop any of the cities from the 2014 study. Instead, we added 5 cities: Laredo TX, Irvine CA, St. Petersburg FL, Durham NC, Chandler AR. The total number of cities in the 2016 study is 82.

Booksellers and Book Stores Data

Information about the number of independent booksellers was gathered from the American Booksellers Association (ABA) website ( Only those stores registered as ABA Bookseller Members in December of 2016 were included.

Information about retail bookstores was gathered from between October and December, 2016. The search term "Book Stores" was used for "retail bookstores" and only the book stores listed in the participating city (not the surrounding area) were included. The search term "religious bookstores" was not used to identify additional retail bookstores. However, under "book stores" several religious bookstores were also listed (with or without additional indication as religious bookstores) and they were included in the total number of retail bookstores.

Information about used/rare booksellers was gathered from on January 5, 2017. The search term "used & rare books" was used to identify used/rare bookstores in the participating cities. These stores were not necessarily different from the retail bookstores under "book stores" or the independent bookstores from the ABA website.

Educational Attainment Data

Information on educational attainment was gathered from the Unites States Census Bureau's "American Factfinder" (, specifically from the results of the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS). The Educational Attainment data were gathered by searching for each participating city's percentage of graduates from high school (or higher) and percentage of holders with bachelor's degree (or higher). For Nashville-Davidson TN and for Louisville/Jefferson County KY the 2015 ACS data were from Metropolitan Government (balance). For Honolulu CDP the 2015 ACS data were from "Urban Honolulu-CDP." For Lexington-Fayette KY the 2015 ACS data were from "Urban County" and for Anchorage AK the 2015 ACS data were from "Municipality." For all other cities, the 2015 ACS data were from the geographic type "Place" and the geographic area "City" in each state.

Internet Use Data

Ranking of cities on Internet/electronic media uses were based on the analysis of data from the Nielsen Scarborough USA+ Release 1 2016. The Nielsen Scarborough data we used reflected behaviors between February 2015 and April 2016 on the following categories:

  • Number of people who purchased a book on the Internet in the past 12 months
  • Number of people who used a mobile device to read a newspaper in the past 30 days
  • Number of households that currently own an eReader
  • Number of people who shopped from/used a bookstore's services in the past 3 months
  • Number of people who visited a TV/cable website in the past 30 days
  • Number of people who visited a newspaper website in the past 30 days

Nielsen Scarborough provided data for a number of metropolitan areas that covered most of the participating cities. However, it was not possible to separate data for each city out of the larger metropolitan areas. Therefore, we decided to rank all cities the same if they were included in the same metropolitan area. For example, from the participating cities, the New York Metropolitan Area included New York City, Jersey City, and Newark and all three cities received the same ranking. No data were available for Anchorage AK, Corpus Christi TX, Fort Wayne IN, Laredo TX, and Lincoln NE and, therefore, we ranked these 5 cities last.

Magazines and Journals Data

Figures for this variable were gathered from the web edition of the National Directory of Magazines and the Standard Periodical Directory through the site of Oxbridge Communications from November 16-23, 2016. Only magazines with a total circulation of 2,500 or more and journals with a total circulation of 500 or more were included.

Newspapers Data

For the newspaper variable, we used information collected by the Alliance for Audited Media. We chose to study the data for Daily Newspapers. We excluded Affiliated Publications not associated with Daily Newspapers. We also excluded Weekly Newspapers. We focused on the Daily (average Mon-Fri) and Sunday Circulation figures from quarterly reports ending September 30, 2016 (Q3). If the Q3 reports were not available, we used the most recent quarterly report posted in 2016. This was the case for Riverside CA and Santa Ana CA (we used Q1 2016 reports), as well as for St. Petersburg FL (we used Q2 2016 report).

Regarding the daily circulation figures, we chose to report the average Monday-Friday figures because in 49 out of the 67 cities that had quarterly reports for 2016 the average Monday-Saturday figures were not reported. In contrast, only 16 of the 67 cities did not report average Monday-Friday figures and in those cases we chose to estimate these figures by making use of the average daily figures from Monday to Friday.
The total Daily Circulation and the Total Sunday Circulation included print, digital replica, and digital non-replica circulations. For each city, we divided the Daily circulation numbers and the Sunday circulation numbers with the city's 2015 United States Census population estimates figures and this resulted in a ratio which we then rank ordered.

The following 15 cities had no newspaper circulation data reported to the Alliance for Audited Media at the time of the study: Anaheim CA, Arlington TX, Aurora CO, Chandler AZ, Chula Vista CA, Durham NC, Henderson NV, Irvine CA, Jersey City NJ, Long Beach CA, Mesa AZ, Oakland CA, Plano TX, Tampa FL, and Virginia Beach VA. All these cities were ranked last.
Note: For Laredo TX we used CDL=Community Daily Newspaper, as there was no DLY=Daily Newspaper, and the particular CDL was published daily.

Library/Media Specialists Data

a) Information regarding library population, library staff per capita, volumes per capita, circulation per capita, and branches per capita was gleaned from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS at, specifically its "Public Libraries Survey, FY2014" in December 2016.

No data were provided for Minneapolis MN, St. Petersburg FL, and Irvine CA in the Public Libraries Survey (PLS) FY 2014. However, each city's main library and/or branches were included in the total number of branches reported by their County Library System. Therefore, we used data reported for the Hennepin County Library System in MN, the Pinellas County Library System in FL, and the Orange County Library System in CA to estimate the library population for Minneapolis MN, St. Petersburg FL, and Irvine CA, respectively. We calculated our estimates based on the population ratio of city to county. (We used the 2014 population estimates from the US Census for St. Petersburg and for Irvine, because their county's library data were from 2014. For Minneapolis MN we used the 2013 population estimates, because the Hennepin County library data reported in the PLS FY 2014 were from 2013.) After we estimated each city's library population, we used the library population ratio of city to county to estimate the city's print volumes and annual circulation based on the county's reported data on print volumes and on annual circulation. We did not have to estimate the number of library branches for each of the three cities. Instead, we found the number of branches from the St. Petersburg Library System website at, the City of Irvine website at and the Hennepin County Library website at

Finally, for the following cities, more than one libraries were listed in the Public Libraries Survey. Below are our choices based on what we considered to be the main library of each city:

  • Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System (instead of Pueblo of Isleta Public Library)
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (instead of 13 other smaller libraries)
  • Portland, OR: Multnomah County Library (instead of two smaller ones – community libraries)
  • San Diego, CA: San Diego Public Library (instead of San Diego County Library)
  • Santa Ana, CA: Santa Ana Public Library (instead of Orange County Public Libraries)
  • St. Louis, MO: City of St. Louis Municipal Library (instead of Saint Louis County Library)
  • Tucson, AZ: Pima County Public Library (instead of two smaller libraries that served more as learning/resource centers)

b) Information regarding the number of students and the number of librarians/media specialists came from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) databases, specifically the "Public School District" database.

The data reported were from the school year 2014-2015, which were the most recent data available during the period January 6-7, 2017. The number of librarians/media specialists for each city represents both "Librarians/Media Specialists" and "Library/Media Support" staff. For each participating city, the school districts' data were used if the District Type was Regular and was also in population centers labeled as City: Large. The only exception in using population centers labeled other than City: Large was when the city reported its data only through a single district (and in one case two districts) that was not City: Large. The exceptions were for Chandler AZ (suburb: large), Chula Vista CA (suburb: large), Durham NC (city: midsize), Irvine CA (city: midsize), Jersey City NJ (city: midsize), and Laredo TX (city: midsize).

Note that Columbus OH and Toledo OH did not have any data available through the database, so the previous study's data (2014) were used again for this year's study. Also, Milwaukee WI, Cleveland OH, and Cincinnati OH did not have any data for librarians/media specialists and therefore the previous study's data were used, as well.

While most cities had a single school district that met the criteria, several cities had multiple school districts. Here are the participating cities with more than one school district:

Anchorage, AK
Anchorage School District
Chugach School District

Anaheim, CA
Anaheim City
Anaheim Union High
Magnolia Elementary
Savanna Elementary

Bakersfield, CA
Bakersfield City
Fruitvale Elementary
Greenfield Union Elementary
Kern Union High
Lakeside Union
Panama-Buena Vista Union
Rosedale Union Elementary

Chula Vista, CA
Chula Vista Elementary
Sweetwater Union High

Colorado Springs, CO
Academy, School district no. 20
Cheyenne Mountain, school district no. 12
Colorado Springs, school district no. 11
Harrison, school district no. 2

Columbus, OH
Columbus City School District
Metro Early College High School

Corpus Christi, TX
Calallen ISD
Corpus Christi ISD
Flour Bluff ISD
Tuloso-Midway ISD
West Oso ISD

Detroit, MI
Detroit City School District
Education Achievement Authority of Michigan

El Paso, TX
El Paso ISD
Socorro ISD
Ysleta ISD

Fort Worth, TX
Eagle Mt-Saginaw ISD
Fort Worth ISD

Fresno, CA
Central Unified
Fresno Unified
Washington Unified

Houston, TX
Houston ISD
Spring Branch ISD

Indianapolis, IN
Edpower Arlington
Franklin Township Com. School Corp.
Indianapolis Public schools
MSD Decatur Township
MSD Pike Township
MSD Warren Township
MSD Washington Township
MSD Wayne Township
Perry Township Schools

Kansas City, MO
Center 58
Hickman Mills C-1
Kansas City 33
North Kansas City 74
Park Hill

Laredo, TX
Laredo ISD
United ISD

Mesa, AZ
East Valley Institute of Technology
Mesa Unified District

Nashville-Davidson, TN
Achievement School District
Davidson County
Tenn School for Blind

New York, NY
New York City Geographic District # 1
New York City Geographic District # 2
New York City Geographic District # 3
New York City Geographic District # 4
New York City Geographic District # 5
New York City Geographic District # 6
NYC Special Schools - District 75

Oklahoma City, OK
Crooked Oak
Oklahoma City
Western Heights

Omaha, NE
Millard Public
Omaha Public
Westside Community

Phoenix, AZ
Alhambra Elementary
Balsz Elementary
Cartwright Elementary
Creighton Elementary
Fowler Elementary
Isaac Elementary
Madison Elementary
Murphy Elementary
Osborn Elementary
Paradise Valley Unified
Pendergast Elementary
Phoenix Elementary
Phoenix Union
Riverside Elementary
Roosevelt Elementary
Wilson Elementary

Portland, OR
David Douglas SD40
Parkrose SD3
Portland SD


Riverside, CA
Alvord Unified
Riverside Unified

Sacramento, CA
Natomas Unified
Robla Elementary
Sacramento City Unified

San Antonio, TX
Alamo Heights ISD
Edgewood ISD
Fort Sam Houston ISD
Harlandale ISD
North East ISD
Northside ISD
San Antonio ISD
South San Antonio ISD

San Diego, CA
Del Mar Union Elementary
Poway Unified
San Diego Unified

San Jose, CA
Alum Rock Union Elementary
Berryessa Union Elementary
Cambrian Elementary
Campbell Union High
East Side Union High
Evergreen Elementary
Franklin-McKinley Elementary
Moreland Elementary
Mt. Pleasant Elementary
Oak Grove Elementary
Orchard Elementary
San Jose Unified
Union Elementary

Stockton, CA
Lincoln Unified
Stockton Unified

Toledo, OH
Toledo City
Washington Local

Tucson, AZ
Redington Elementary District
Sunnyside Unified
Tucson Unified

Tulsa, OK


Additionally, the following cities' information was based on county school district information reported. In some cases, the only district data reported were from population centers listed as suburb: large, instead of city: large.

Charlotte, NC
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, Mecklenburg County

Greensboro, NC
Guilford County School District

Henderson, NV
Clark County School District

Honolulu, HI
Hawaii Department of Education, Honolulu County = suburb: large, instead of city: large

Jacksonville, FL
Duval County School District

Las Vegas, NV
Clark County School District

Lexington, KY
Fayette County School District

Louisville, KY
Jefferson County School District = suburb: large, instead of city: large

Memphis, TN
Shelby County School District

Miami, FL
Miami-Dade County School District = suburb: large, instead of city: large

Orlando, FL
Orange County School District = suburb: large, instead of city: large

Raleigh, NC
Wake County School District = Suburb: Large, instead of city: large

St. Petersburg, FL
Pinellas County = Suburb: Large, instead of city: large

Tampa, FL
Hillsborough County School District = Suburb: Large, instead of city: large